Yesterday, UAB “officially” announced that it would be disbanding their football program. It was reported by Sports Illustrated last week and while rumors swirled and a lot of denial was swimming around, the truth came crashing down on the players, coaches and their families last night…and it crashed down hard.
Videos posted to social media last night of the meeting between UAB President Ray Watts and current players and coaches were raw and emotional. Senior tight end Tristan Henderson spoke with such passion and conviction about what this meant to him and his family that it brings tears to your eyes.
The President cited financial reasons for closing the program. However, there are those who feel that it is poorly managed by the University staff.
I spoke with former UAB wide receiver Patrick Murrah and this is what he had to say:
First of all the entire announcement yesterday was handled (poorly). The president stood up there and treated the players and coaches like idiots, claiming it was all financial. Anyone who has played or been associated with the program knows it has never gotten the full support or much support at all from the board of trustees. Whether it is the lack of facilities or the blocking of hiring a coach it seems the trustees have gotten what they wanted, to shut it down and make look like it all falls on the coaches and players alone. It seemed fine to let the program continue with 1 or 2 wins a year and less than 10,000 in the stands. But when a coach comes in and does exactly what he said he would do and gets them eligible for a bowl in year one and doubles the attendance, it’s time to shut it down, completely ridiculous.
Regardless of the reason, it is a hard hit for Birmingham, the state of Alabama and all of those involved. Lost revenue for many hospitality jobs in the area all the way down to people who work to get the stadium ready for games. Patrick went on to add:
“The sad part of this is I’m not sure it will stop with the football program. There was support for the program but when you have private backers that will back building new practice facilities and backers for a stadium and no matter what the board votes it down. And to hire an entire staff and when they do an amazing job the get told it’s over.”
To throw salt on the wound, UAB beat Southern Miss this past weekend which made them bowl eligible, for the first time since 2004.